'I believe Bangura will reach his full potential'
FOREST Green manager Dave Hockaday is backing big-name midfielder Al Bangura to prove his Premier League worth.
The Sierra Leone international, who made 16 appearances in the top flight for Watford in 2006/07, has been beset by injuries since arriving at the New Lawn in a blaze of publicity two summers ago.
He was substituted after 65 minutes of last Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Grimsby Town – Rovers' first in the Blue Square Bet Premier this season – and was visibly annoyed as he took his seat in the dugout.
But Hockaday has known the 24-year-old since he joined the Watford academy as a teenager, and remains a huge fan of him as a player and a man.
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"I don't want any of my players to be happy to come off the pitch, so there is no problem on that front," said Hockaday.
"Al picked up a thigh problem at Gateshead (on August 18) which set him back, and since then he has been working hard to get back in the team and establish himself.
"Even at 80 percent he can be a massive player for us – he is that good – but he always wants to be at 100 percent and be at his absolute best for Forest Green.
"I've got no doubt he will be get there, provided he gets a bit of luck. He knows I believe in him."
Second-placed Rovers are back on home turf tomorrow against Alfreton Town (3pm), a team they managed to put ten goals past last season in completing a league double.
But Nicky Law's side have won their last two matches, seeing off Lincoln City 2-1 at Sincil Bank before humbling title favourites Luton Town 3-0 in Derbyshire.
Hockaday said: "We are up against a team who have found a method of playing and are a tougher proposition than last year, so we will need to be right at it and patience could be important."
Defender Chris Stokes has a chance of being named in Hockaday's squad, the left-back proving his recovery from a thigh injury in a friendly against AFC Bournemouth on Monday.
But Jared Hodgkiss and Paul Green are still battling back from ankle problems and Yan Klukowski (groin) may be rested for a second game running.
One player who will be available is defender Aarran Racine, who yesterday penned a permanent two-year deal with Rovers.
The 20-year-old former Southampton man has impressed during the first four weeks of a three-month deal, causing Hockaday to call the signing a 'no brainer'.
"It was a no brainer, as anyone who has seen him play since arriving in August will appreciate," Hockaday said.
"We brought Aarran in after having four defenders succumb to injury in the space of couple of weeks during the pre-season and he has been mightily impressive."
Tomorrow's match will feature a half-time appearance from double Olympic gold medal-winning rower Pete Reed, and to mark the occasion Rovers are offering a 'kids for a quid' ticket offer.
The club's general manager Trevor Saunders said: "Pete is hugely popular in this area and has had a remarkable run of Olympic success.
"It's important that local people, and in particular local children, get to see him to show their support and be further inspired by what sport can do.
"With this kids offer we wanted to make it even easier for families to come along to the match and experience a little bit of that Olympic magic that has inspired so many people over the last few months."
For more information visit forestgreenroversfc.com.